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Exit Interviews: Meeting with Mr. Darcy

Young Darcy Kuemper's long-term NHL future was practically guaranteed to land outside the State of Hockey after Devan Dubnyk was signed to a six-year extension last off-season. A year later, will Minnesota and "The Kuemperor" finally part ways?

Once touted as the Wild's "Goalie of the Future" that future in Minnesota is now in doubt.
Once touted as the Wild's "Goalie of the Future" that future in Minnesota is now in doubt.
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Darcy, please, have a seat.

Can I get you anything to drink? Water? Coffee? No? Okay, well, let's get to it. After a very shaky season a year ago, you had a much more consistent season with a 6-7-5 record, a 2.43 goals against average, a .915 save percentage and two shutouts, albeit in 10 fewer appearances. Had we been able to convert in three-on-three overtime, not to mention hadn't had such a weird year on special teams, we're sure your record would have looked much better. We know the amount of game action is not as much as you would like, but we're sure you understand what with our long-term commitment to Dubnyk. That brings us to a very difficult crossroads, which means even more difficult decisions will have to be made.

The Problem

The reason why most organizations draft the best player available regardless of position is that it's very difficult to predict the future, including our organizational needs within that future. When we drafted you, and Matt Hackett, in 2009, we had no idea how problematic our security in goal would be over the next several seasons. With injuries to Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding - not to mention Harding's unfortunate battle with MS - we've had Jose Theodore, Ilya Bryzgalov (wasn't he fun?!), yourself, Dubnyk and even Hackett see extended time in net. Harding, Theodore and Bryzgalov are no longer playing, Backstrom is gone - with his NHL future in doubt - and Hackett hasn't been able to crack an NHL roster since the Jason Pominville trade.

The role of "Goaltender of the Future" was very much yours for the taking, but who could've predicted such an outstanding performance from a player who was expected to be little more than an organizational band-aid? You and Dubby have both played great hockey for us the past few years, but we can't afford to pay two starting goaltenders what they both probably deserve to be paid. As it stands, the Minnesota Wild backup role is yours, but we both know that isn't what you want, not to mention we have every bit of confidence in the world to believe you have what it takes to be an NHL starting netminder. However, we've already committed to Devan, and we think he has several great seasons ahead of him.

Our Options Moving Forward

With all this in mind, we have two options:

1.) First and foremost, we'll do everything in our power to find a suitable trade partner that offers both you and ourselves the best of both worlds. If the trade makes sense - suitable compensation for us and a good career opportunity for you - we'll pull the trigger.

2.) If we can't find the right deal, we'd definitely be willing to sign you to a reasonable one or two-year deal if the numbers you're looking for makes sense for us. If there's one thing we learned this season, it's that Dubs is a good goalie, but he can't start every game, and he needs a backup that can continually push him to be better. As of right now, none of our prospects are currently able to step up and fill that role, which would make you our No. 1 candidate. Plus, injuries happen and players can get into a deep funk (remember the mid-way point of the past few seasons?), which means you could be all that stands between playoffs and tee times.

In Conclusion...

You're a heckuva hockey player, and a good man, and you have a very bright future. While that future may not ultimately be in the State of Hockey, you can be sure we're going to do whatever we can to ensure that future stays in the NHL for a long time to come. Enjoy your summer - regardless of where you land next season, it may be your biggest year yet.